Friday, January 28, 2011

About Working in Series

I have spoken before about working in “series” and that is what I am doing now. I have seen this operation apparent in the work of other visual artists and in artists of other disciplines. I believe that the impetus behind this repeated reach for the same or similar vision is born of never quite succeeding. It’s about reaching that peak after pushing the boulder up the side of the mountain only to have to start the trek again. That’s a dismal picture of a quest that is often actually a good hike. The boulder only occasionally rolls all the way back down to the foothills. Those are the days when we ask ourselves  “What for? Why am I doing this? What makes me think I am a painter?” Or some variation of the above. We have our resident demons. And then there are those delicious moments when something looks just right and we see ourselves as ten feet tall and capable of miracles (until the next day when we become critical again).

I know this experience is shared because artists speak of it and write about it. Self doubt is ever present, more for some than for others but evidently it belongs with the creative effort and may be an essential part of it. Some humility might be a good thing.

That is what I see in the “series” operation. It is the tangible result of the quest for the impossible vision, the miraculous realization, the creative dream come true. But, luckily for us, when the whole of a series is together and finished, the producer is usually sated and ready to go on to the next push. Never completely satisfied but somehow that’s just fine. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

In the words of T. S. Eliot: Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. 

The above image of a quartet is part of the “Structures” series currently being pushed up the side of the mountain within my studio. This body of 32 paintings is moving along well, not quite ready to be called “finished” and not quite perfect. But the next group will be.

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